UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania – Researchers from New Penn State found some gender gap barriers in training facilities. Some women are not getting enough exercise, particularly on weight training that is essential for strength and muscle building, compared to men.

Researchers surveyed college students and found that most women are less likely to participate in weight training activities compared to men. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training is equally important for both men and women, bringing several benefits for overall health and fitness. The researchers found that women feel uncomfortable using their campus training areas, particularly weight training facilities.

Previous research also found disparities in physical activities between men and women. Melissa Bopp, a kinesiology professor, said that college is an important phase in establishing physical fitness habits. This consideration is one of the reasons why their sample size was taken from college students. They want to bring some light on the gap between men and women’s physical activity disparities on the campus.

A total of 319 college students were surveyed for the researcher’s study. They were asked to fill out a survey that measures physical activity and level of comfort in using their campus’ recreational facilities. The survey also asked for their reasons of feeling uncomfortable, and possible solutions that can be implemented for them to feel more comfortable in using the facilities.

Barriers That Make Women Use Less Weight Training Facilities

Results from their survey show that women have less weight training than men and more cardio and group training compared to men. Reasons for their lack of comfort in using weight training facilities include the presence and certain behaviours of men, feeling that they lack knowledge on the proper use of equipment, and feelings of self-consciousness are the top reasons of why they’re not comfortable in weight training.

Some respondents noted how their recreational training facilities have some division between men and women. For example, more women are in the cardio section, while the men are gathered in the weightlifting facilities. Most women are intimidated going alone and being surrounded by men while using weight equipment. So, even if women like using weights, they tend to stay away due to these limiting factors.

Oliver Wilson, a graduate student of kinesiology, said that school administrators and other policymakers might have opportunities to help give equal opportunities for everyone on the campus. He said that no barriers, such as gender identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status, should stop anyone from getting muscle and strength training opportunities. Proper implementation of policies, facility, design, equipment layout, encouraging social events, can be done to help give equal opportunities for all.

Bopp suggests making the campus recreational facilities more open and welcoming to all kinds of students to ensure equitable opportunities for everyone to get the exercise they need. Participants in the survey recommend other solutions such as putting women’s section weight training facilities or scheduling of different hours for women and men and the implementation of sexual harassment policies.

This research study was recently published in the Journal of American College Health. David Guthrie, an associate professor of education and Crystal Colinear, an undergraduate kinesiology student, are also key contributors to the research. The findings and recommendations in this research can be used for further studies and develop sound solutions to combat barriers that limit women from getting equitable opportunities in weight training as opposed to men.